tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 14, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
captions paid for by nbc-universal television and good ening from vancouver, where the second day of competition at these olympic winter games is well under way. we have the world covered for you here tonight, but the olympic world is buzzing about an incredible finish in a race here today in which american skiers had never before won a medal. and we're looking forward to the men's moguls tonight after american women gave the u.s. its first two medals yesterday in that competition. the u.s. now leads the medal race here, with five, including
a thrilling silver medal finish last night by speed skater apolo ohno. and right now at least a stunning, sparkling day here, though warm. and that certainly doesn't help the snow challenge. we begin our coverage tonight with nbc's donna friesen. >> reporter: until today this was a sport dominated by europeans. the men's nordic combined. but this time near the end of an exhausting 10-kilometer race, american johnny spillane flew forward into the lead. he hung on into the final turn, when frenchman jason lamy chappuis nudged past him. lamy missing gold by just .1 seconds but his medal is the first for an american in this sport. it was slushy last night as the women's best mogul skiers battled for gold. >> picture perfect for the canadian. >> reporter: at first it seemed canada wou win. >> jenn heil is in first place. >> reporter: but there was one more woman left to race, american hannah kearney.
>> the 23-year-old from norwich, vermont looking for a bit of redemption when she did not qualify for the final four years ago in torino. >> reporter: and did she redeem herself. it was the best race of her life. >> american hannah kearney wins gold! >> reporter: the first gold for usa at the vancouver olympics. >> if i can set the tone for team usa, that is a dream come true. >> reporter: her teammate, shannon bahrke took bronze. high drama too at the speed skating oval last night. three korean speed skaters led the pack in the men's 1500 meters until the final turn, when two of the koreans literally slid out of medal contention. leaving the way open for americans apolo ohno and j.r. celski. they crossed the finish line almost simultaneously, apolo taking silver, his sixth olympic medal, and celski, an olympic rookie, winning bronze. >> it was a good race. it was a hard race. a lot of bumping. a lot of contact. but it worked out. >> representing the united
states of america, apolo anton ohno! >> reporter: ohno is now tied with speed skater bonnie blair as the most decorated winter olympian for the u.s. on the podium celski pointed to his leg, a reminder he's overcome a massive injury that took him out of competition for five months. >> i've got a lot of races to go, but i think we're proving that the usa is doing well. >> reporter: it's been beautiful here today, but the weather has been a factor. organizers say, though, it seems mother nature is finally smiling on this part of the world. so it is expected the men's downhill will go ahead tomorrow. brian? >> donna, thanks. donna friesen here with us in vancouver. and now to what's become one of the most closely watched events here in vancouver. it's under way right now, the finals of the men's singles luge competition. as nbc's chris jansing reports, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the crash that killed that young georgian athlete. >> reporter: it was a heart-stopping moment during last night's luge competition.
american walden's sled went too high at the same spot where nodar kumaritashvili crashed. and it happened amid an international controversy over a luge federation statement blaming the 21-year-old for his own death. >> his death is not because of the mistake he made. people should be asking hard questions as to why this death occurred and try to rectify it so it never happens again. >> reporter: but less than ten hours after the crash that killed kumaritashvili the federation cloounded that the athlete came late out of curve 15 and did not compensate properly. there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track. and nowhere was the criticism of that statement more emotional than in kumaritashvili's home country of georgia. nbc's stephanie gosk is in tbilisi. >> reporter: sxhokd grieving georgians are now waiting for the body of kumaritashvili to be flown back home. the burial is expected to take place in his hometown in the mountains where georgian president saakashvili plans to
build a new luge and training facility in his honor. >> reporter: kumaritashvili's death prompted unprecedented changes to the track including a new starting line and new ice contours to slow the sleds, padded poles, and a quickly built wall. since the tragedy olympic officials have defended the track as safe but today said the changes made it even safer. >> we're very happy. we're totally confident. i think you saw the competition yesterday. everyone who started finished, got down, there were no accidents. >> reporter: many of the top olympians are unhappy with the changes, including the austrian who set a track record of almost 96 miles per hour. >> we're going now from the old lady start, and it's not so fast. >> reporter: and luging may never be as fast again. organizers of the 2012 games in russia have been warned that the trend toward faster and faster tracks stops now. chris jansing, nbc news, vancouver. we will have more from these games shortly, including lester
holt's conversation with apolo ohno. but first we move quickly to afghanistan, where u.s. and allied forces encountered stiff resistance on what is now day two of the biggest offensive in years against the taliban. and in the course of the fighting today a dozen afghan civilians were killed when two nato rockets struck a house there. the target of this offensive, the southern city of marjah, as we've been reporting, considered to be a taliban stronghold. our report tonight from nbc's jim maceda. >> reporter: fighting has intensified in the battle for marjah the last taliban stronghold in the heart of helmand province, afghanistan's drug trafficking capital. >> it's an opium, heroin production place. marjah was free key to freeing helmand province from the grip of the taliban. >> reporter: thousands of u.s. marines, british, and afghan troops are under fire but moving forward, many house to house. >> right next to you on the
side. >> which side in right side or left side? >> the side right there. >> reporter: facing taliban snipers on rooftops and massive numbers of mines and i.e.d.s, underground or in booby traps. two coalition troops and dozens of insurgents have been killed. cameraman sebastian rich is embedded with the marines for nbc news. >> reporter: we've also come under heavy mortar and small arms fire through the day while the units have been trying to detonate the i.e.d.s. >> reporter: many of the 1,000 or so taliban who from the hub of marjah control the flow of fighters, drugs, and weapons have already fled, possibly melting in with displaced families seeking shelter further north. those who stay behind, especially foreign fiters, could fight to the death. still, u.s. commanders say so far so good. >> we're optimistic that we're on timeline, maybe even a little ahead of timeline. we've been surprised by the number of i.e.d.s we've found. there's been no shortage of
i.e.d.s, probably even more than we thought. >> reporter: marjah, once a town of 100,000, is the first critical test of president obama's strategy. clear, hold with the help of u.s. trained afghan security forces, then bring in aid, a kind of civilian surge of schools, clin sxikz roads. many villagers say they've seen none of that yet. >> translator: now is the time to work and build just like they've promised, sa epromised, afghan. meanwhile u.s. commanders have apologized for that deadly rocket incident, but the mistake could be costly in the larger battle to win over the afghan people. brian? >> and jim, here y are taking a battlefield break covering the olympics for a few weeks. but you've spent so much of your professional life in and around afghanistan. you and i were talking yesterday. you said this battle could be the alamo for them. >> reporter: it could be the alamo because there are probably dozens maybe even hundreds of foreign fighters who have nowhere to go. they've got nowhere to hide. it could be their last stand. marjah is so important to so many people there in the
taliban. it is a choke point. it's an area along a very important artery that moves drugs and drug money and weapons and fighters. and the taliban simply has nowhere else to go now in helmand province. that's the status quo. u.s. and coalition forces largely control the rest of the province. so if you win marjah, you win helmand province, and that's what's at stake. >> jim maceda, a veteran combat correspondent, here with us in vancouver reporting on the fighting overseas. jim, thanks. viewers of the sunday talk shows witnessed a remarkable vice presidential face-off of sorts this morning. current vice president joe biden and his predecessor dick cheney tangled on dueling networks over terrorism, aq, and more. it all started with vice president biden's appearance with david gregory on "meet the press." our coverage tonight from nbc's mike viqueira at the white house. >> i don't think the former vice president, dick cheney, listens -- >> reporter: it was awn precedented exchange, unfolding
on three network talk shows. first on "meet the press," the sitting vice president hit back at the man who preceded him. after months of charges that the obama white house is soft on terror. >> he either is misinformed or he is misinforming. but the facts are that his assertions that are not accurate. >> reporter: then it was cheney's turn. appearing minutes later on another program. he ridiculed biden for his claim that iraq is an obama administration success story. >> if they're going to take credit for it, fair enough for what they've done while they're there. but it ought to go with a healthy dose of thank you, george bush up front. >> reporter: cheney once again accused the administration of holding what he called a pre-9/11 mindset and lashed out at biden for playing down the possibility of another massive attack. >> you don't want the vice president of the united states running around saying it's not likely to happen. >> reporter: biden appearing for a second time this morning quickly answered back.
>> that's why you're seeing al qaeda metastasize into smaller-bore operatis coming out of the arabian peninsula not directly coordinated by them. i don't know what di doesn't understand. >> reporter: cheney had more criticism, accusing the administration of botching the interrogation of failed christmas day bomber abdulmutallab. in response biden noted that shoe bomber richard reid got the same treatment on cheney's watch. >> it's almost like dick is trying to rewrite history. i can understand why that would be, you know, an impulse. >> reporter: today cheney acknowledged that he also disagreed with many on the bush team on issues like waterboarding terror suspects, a practice he still supports. >> i can remember a meeting in the roosevelt room in the west wing of the white house where we had a major shootout over how this was going to be handled. >> reporter: and brian, another major point of contention today, where and how to try alleged 9/11 mastermind khalid shaikh mohammed. it's already common knowledge
the administration willove that trial from lower manhattan. and today the vice president said they're also considering moving that from a civilian to a military court. brian? >> mike viqueira at the white house. mike, thanks. still ahead, as we continue this sunday evening from vancouver, american speed skating sensation apolo ohno makes history in a wild race. and later, how the u.s. men's alpine ski team prepares for the cold by training in the heat. hoping it all leads to a medal of some sort. liquid medicine already dissolved ready for your body to take in. new robitussin® to go. pure robitussin® relief... to go. you're taking the pain reliever that works faster on tough pain than tylenol rapid release gels. and not only faster. stronger, too. relief doesn't get any better than this. advil. i have a question about these clams. the taste is amazing. clam transfer. clams. are these really fresh-caught clams in your new england clam chowder? we take what the ocean offers,
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know last night's dramatic finish gave apolo ohno a silver medal. that's olympic medal number 6 for him with three more races left here in vancouver. he has the chance to stand alone in u.s. winter olympic history as the most decorated athlete ever. tonight lester holt on the apolo mission here in vancouver. >> reporter: somewhere, somehow the brash young kid with the signature soul patch who captured the world's attention in salt lake city has grown up.at 27 years old apolo ohno today finds himself the ameriel statesman on the american short track team. >> a little older, hopefully a little more mature. i still love the sport just as much as i did then. maybe even more now. >> reporter: if you happened to miss his emotional race in salt lake city in torino -- >> no! >> reporter: -- chance ruz didn't miss his solid gold performance two years ago in
"dancing with the stars," which cemented h celebrity status and seemingly was pointing him toward a new career path. >> nice. >> reporter: instead, he's back. having now tied the honor of america's most decorated winter olympian here in vancouver. and he's not done yet. >> i think all athletes can go back and say this is the one race for me that just felt amazing. this is the one competition. >> but you had your perfect race. >> i had my perfect race. i had many competitions and had many races in the past. >> ohno to the line! >> reporter: that perfect race was the 500 in torino four years ago, one he led from start to finish. his father watching every stride. ♪ >> after the 500-meter in torino and you're off the medal stand and the crowd roars died down, was there a moment of reflection about what now? >> not even a moment of reflection but more is this something, do i want to continue
to pursue this as my life goal? it was his father, yuki, who he admits he often defied as a rebellious teen, who convinced him to retreat to the family cabin far outside seattle to ponder his future. from there he found both his path back to the track and a newly strengthened relationship with his father. >> have you guys gone through a big period of adjustment in the last several years? >> i think period of adjustment is an interesting word. >> understatement, huh? >> yeah, understatement. >> reporter: now it is his young teammates who grew up watching him who see ohno as the role model. >> you know, when i get out on the ice and i glide past the heat box, i look at the coaching box and i see who's there and i say, well, you know, i've skated against that coach, i've skated against this coach, and i've skated against this coach. >> reporter: so what keeps him here still on the ice? >> i love what i do. on the worst day of competition i love it. it's kind of what it's all about. you know, the ups and downs, the highs and the lows. and how you deal with them.
that kind of shape you. >> it sounds to me like maturity. >> maybe that's what it is. maybe that's what it is. >> reporter: these days apolo ohno says it's not just about winning. but also savoring the journey. a journey he takes this time a little bit older but maybe a lot wiser too. lester holt, nbc news, vancouver. >> by the way, you can hear much more from apolo oh mno and many more u.s. olympic athletes on our website, msnbc.com. coming up, as we continue, it was all downhill today on capitol hill, but far from an average day, there is was a goo thing. n be more confident in their ability to be ready with cialis. with two clinically proven dosing options, you can choose the moment that's right for you and your partner. 36-hour cialis and cialis for daily use. cialis for daily use is a low-dose tablet you take every day, so you can be ready anytime the moment's right.
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the government might have shut down due to snow in washington this past week, but they reopened long enough to make a really good decision. for the first time in years they've opened the u.s. capitol grounds for sledding. true monday. it's all downhill until then. by the way, more trouble do south tonight after two to four inches in parts of tennessee, alabama, georgia, and the carolinas. meanwhile, snow is being blamed for the partial roof collapse of a hockey rink near pittsburgh today. an emergency official says there are still people unaccounted for there. it's believed there were about 25 people inside when it happened. several were seen being carried out on stretchers, but we're told none of the injuries is serious. in kansas a sudden snow squall being blamed for a multivehicle pileup along i-70. snow had reduced visibility to near zero. we're told at least 30 vehicles were involved in the pileup, including cars, trucks, and bus. some injuries reported there. out west a scary scene at a surfing contest in half moon bay
in northern california. two giant waves suddenly crashed onshore, taking spectators with them. swept away dozens of spectators perched on a jetty. most escaped with minor injuries, but three people were hospitalized with broken bones. big problem at today's daytona 500 as nascar learned the hard way no one is immune to potholes. an actual pothole led to the suspension of the race more than once today. the problem was patched up but didn't hold up to 190-mile-an-hour speeds. this is a first for nascar's big signature race. while it sounds like a racetrack here, that's a seaplane taking off behind us. also need to report tonight best-selling british crime writer dick francis has died. he drew on his experience as a champion steeplechase jockey in authoring over 40 novels over the years. elizabeth the queen mother, a keen horse-racing fan, was among
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used to the heat. our report on them tonight from nbc's kevin tibbles. >> reporter: utah's breathtaking moab desert is the last place on earth you'd expect to find a bunch of skiers. but this is where the young u.s. men's downhill team, usually found hurtling down a mountain at speeds of 90 miles an hour, has come to train and bond. >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: steve nyman calls himself a surfer trapped inside a skier's body. >> it's like jurassic park kind of. big red rocks. totally out of our element. >> reporter: laid-back marco sullivan dubbed the natural for his seamless mountain runs. >> it's just nice to get out of the snow and have some fun. >> reporter: most of the year they're all fierce competitors on the world cup race circuit. andrew weibrecht, nicknamed the warrior for the way he attacks a race course, says camaraderie is the key to team performance. >> it's pretty important that we all get along. >> reporter: and the goal in the desert, building trust so,
they'll be able to share what they have learned on the slopes. >> go out there and try to figure it out by yourself without talking to anybody you're never going to get it. and if those guys can get one specific turn fix td might mean the difference between winning a medal and, you know, be winning a medal. >> three, two, one, jump. >> reporter: but making the podium is also grueling work. mountain bikes are traded f the stationary ones at the olympic center of excellence in park city. talk about contrast. but it's way up in the mountains that these new bonds forged in the desert are expected to pay off. >> we all want to have bragging rights at the end of the day. and that's not an easy thing to have when you have such a fast group of guys. that's how i think great teams are built, you know, just having depth and pushing each other to new heights. >> reporter: d.j.lanig, the team's self-described montana cowboy. >> being unified and being able to push each other, whether it's in training or in competition, and call each other out if we don't think someone's doing what they should be doing. >> reporter: still, making the
olympics is risky business. lanning broke his neck in a violent crash down a mountainside last november, shattering his olympic dream. still, he plans to be in vancouver to cheer teammates on. because this year's alpine squad is a band of brothers, going fast together. kevin tibbles, nbc news, moab, utah. and that's our broadcast for this sunday night. thank you for being with us. i'm brian williams reporting tonight from vancouver. and a reminder, nbc sports olympic coverage coming up tonight at 7:00, 6:00 central. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com